Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative
Architect: Landon Bone Baker Architects
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Category Two: Creating Community Connection Award
This vacant housing project has become an important arts and culture hub in Chicago's Grand Crossing neighborhood.
Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative (DA+HC) transformed a vacant 1980s Chicago Housing Authority project into a vital arts and culture hub in the city’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. Demonstrating the power of collaboration across all sectors – public, private, and non-profit – DA+HC revitalized a neglected city block and while revitalizing abandoned buildings and constructing the framework for a community-focused and artist-led creative incubator.
"A strong example of employing renovation verses obliteration in an existing neighborhood fabric." ~ Jury comment
The core of the project is the rehabilitation of 32 of the original 36 housing authority two- and three-bedroom townhomes. In a neighborhood with an unemployment rate of 18 percent and 25 percent of the population below the poverty line, DA+HC provides much-needed mixed income housing. Extensive damage to the townhomes’ handsome brick facades were repaired and they now accentuate the recessed doorways and chamfered corners featured throughout. Inside, renovations focused on Energy Star standards and the homes boast energy-efficient windows, doors, lighting, and appliances. Original building materials were reused when possible and stormwater is stored on site through green roofs, permeable pavers, and rain gardens.
A glass-walled 2,200-square-foot arts center and landscaped courtyard, envisioned as a space that is open and available to anyone, serves as a centerpiece for the community and provides an array of programming. From fine arts to music and dance, the center’s programs focus on providing free arts education to children and youth in the South Side of Chicago. Additionally, residents gather weekly to discuss strategies to continue to improve their neighborhood and the center provides space for collaboration with nearby cultural organizations. The center’s façade and clerestory flood the interior with light, helping to promote the programs and exhibitions and accessibility to new audiences.
"Very visible and so empowering; this is part of something very large and momentous happening in Chicago right now." ~ Jury comment
To facilitate the dialogue between artists and residents, DA+HC is the first project in the nation to provide residencies for artists in public housing. A committee of neighbors has a hand in reviewing portfolios and selecting artists. While living on site, artists volunteer to help develop programming and further the revitalization of one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods through their practice and community engagement.